To promote marine activities in the global market and attract foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country, a chamber for the maritime industry of Sri Lanka is expected to be set up within the next two months, The Sunday Morning Business learns.
Speaking to us, Boat Building Technology Improvement Institute (BTI) Managing Director (MD) Gamini Herath stated that they are currently waiting for formal registration and approval by the relevant government authorities to commence the planned activities.
“Due to the prevailing Covid-19 conditions, the approvals may get delayed by two months since movement is currently restricted even at several government institutes. Apart from that, we are also waiting for the approval of the chamber from the Government of Sri Lanka,” Herath said.
According to Herath, the proposed chamber will be the apex body of the marine industry which will be responsible for supporting the Government in implementing activities with regard to the National Export Strategy (NES) and to promote investment in boat and shipbuilding, infrastructure development, marina development, nautical tourism, along with strategic and promotional plans to boost the industry outlook and businesses in the global platform.
Once the approval is given by the Government, the chamber will focus on several key activities to be implemented, developed, or improved in terms of the boating industry in Sri Lanka. One such activity is to implement a new dedicated zone, a “one-stop shop-type establishment” that will focus on having one centralised area for the policy and regulatory framework implementation.
Explaining this, Herath said that, at present, if a company or an investor needs approval to do something related to the marine environment, they have to go to more than 12 associations to get it approved. Hence, this dedicated zone will make the permission process much faster with flexible solutions.
Secondly, the chamber will be playing an active role in promoting the Sri Lankan boating industry at international events and forums such as the International Boating Exhibition. According to Herath, the chamber will partner with the International Council of Marine Industry Associations (ICOMIA), International Federation of Boat Show Organisers (IFBSO), Association of Marina Industries (AMI), and several other associations worldwide.
“Some of these associations have been operating for over 50 years. Hence, through these international associations, we could also get their expertise to develop our recreational boating industry and other related industry activities along with support in terms of policy and regulation formulation with regards to the industry,” Herath said.
Thirdly, the chamber will focus on the current issues the boating industry is facing and will plan accordingly to solve the issues as soon as possible in order to further develop the local industry and the NES to meet global standards.
Addressing an important issue faced by the boating industry in Sri Lanka, Herath said that the request to have launching pads to facilitate boats of over 30 feet for customers has not been actioned by the Government since the year 2012.
Explaining this, Herath said: “When we submitted the proposal then, it was considered one of the best proposals, but since, governments have not taken the initiative. We can export our boats through containers that can accommodate sizes of up to 25 to 30 feet, but above that is questionable. Our clients require that their boats sail on their own power, for which we need launching pads, but unfortunately, we don’t have that. The best locations would be Beruwela and Negombo. The Government needs to make bold decisions to encourage inflows and investments into this industry in the country because one boat can generate a return on investment of up to $ 10 million.”
Furthermore, when inquired about who the Chairman of the chamber would be, Herath said that the first chairman will be elected during the first general meeting that is conducted.
Meanwhile, giving his concluding remarks, Herath stated the chamber will be very firm on developing marinas, nautical tourism, and infrastructure; improving quality standards; and encouraging businesses in the industry to do their best in order to make developing the boating industry a successful venture, both locally and globally.